It was a roundabout route which finally got me to Dmitry Orlov’s website. First, I saw his essay on the Organic Consumers Association website, which pointed me to a fabulous site called Culture Change, which in turn finally got me to Orlov’s own site called ClubOrlov.
According to a brief bio at the Culture Change site, Orlov:
… is the author of Reinventing Collapse, New Society Publishers (2007).
Recently, he spoke on the subject of “superpower collapse.” Here’s an excerpt:
Saturday, February 14, 2009
The following talk was given on February 13, 2009, at Cowell Theatre in Fort Mason Center, San Francisco, to an audience of 550 people. Audio of the talk is available here
If there is one thing that I would like to claim as my own, it is the comparative theory of superpower collapse. For now, it remains just a theory, although it is currently being quite thoroughly tested. The theory states that the United States and the Soviet Union will have collapsed for the same reasons, namely: a severe and chronic shortfall in the production of crude oil (that magic addictive elixir of industrial economies), a severe and worsening foreign trade deficit, a runaway military budget, and ballooning foreign debt. I call this particular list of ingredients “The Superpower Collapse Soup.” Other factors, such as the inability to provide an acceptable quality of life for its citizens, or a systemically corrupt political system incapable of reform, are certainly not helpful, but they do not automatically lead to collapse, because they do not put the country on a collision course with reality. Please don’t be too concerned, though, because, as I mentioned, this is just a theory. My theory.
I’ve been working on this theory since about 1995, when it occurred to me that the US is retracing the same trajectory as the USSR.
Back in December 2006, Energy Bulletin published Orlov’s talk and slide show called:
Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US
Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. I am not an expert or a scholar or an activist. I am more of an eye-witness. I watched the Soviet Union collapse, and I have tried to put my observations into a concise message. I will leave it up to you to decide just how urgent a message it is.
My talk tonight is about the lack of collapse-preparedness here in the United States. I will compare it with the situation in the Soviet Union, prior to its collapse. The rhetorical device I am going to use is the “Collapse Gap” – to go along with the Nuclear Gap, and the Space Gap, and various other superpower gaps that were fashionable during the Cold War.
Slide  The subject of economic collapse is generally a sad one. But I am an optimistic, cheerful sort of person, and I believe that, with a bit of preparation, such events can be taken in stride. As you can probably surmise, I am actually rather keen on observing economic collapses. Perhaps when I am really old, all collapses will start looking the same to me, but I am not at that point yet.
And this next one certainly has me intrigued. From what I’ve seen and read, it seems that there is a fair chance that the U.S. economy will collapse sometime within the foreseeable future. It also would seem that we won’t be particularly well-prepared for it. As things stand, the U.S. economy is poised to perform something like a disappearing act. And so I am eager to put my observations of the Soviet collapse to good use.
Poke around the above mentioned sites and read Orlov’s essays. See what you think…
Filed under: Current Politics